Access to land is fundamental for minerals development. The Australian minerals industry recognises that access to land is earned by demonstrating responsible land stewardship throughout the mining life cycle. While mining is a temporary land use, the minerals industry acknowledges its responsibility to contribute towards sustainable land use outcomes.
At a national level, the minerals industry’s ‘footprint’ in the landscape is relatively small. While granted mining leases account for around 0.6 per cent(1) of the Australian land mass, the minerals industry ‘footprint’ (including waste) occupies less than 0.1 per cent(2). At the local or regional level, the minerals industry can be a significant land manager as non-operational land can be significantly larger than the mining footprint and is often used for other activities such as agriculture.
The way the industry manages both operational and non-operational land (under existing or alternate uses) is critical to the industry’s social licence to operate. Notwithstanding the marked difference in the area of land occupied by the minerals industries and major land uses (including agriculture and conservation), circumstances arise where the demand for resources can overlap.
Sustainable land use outcomes can only be delivered through recognition and integration of the multiple values within the landscape (conservation, economic, social and cultural) with the aim of maximising these values. With careful, science based planning, mining, conservation, agriculture and other land uses can be complementary as sequential or neighbouring activities. The minerals industry has led the development of innovative land management approaches which can enhance the integration and co-existence of those activities.
The minerals industry considers ongoing stakeholder engagement is critical to successful land use planning and management. The rights, knowledge and interests of traditional owners, existing land holders and the community need to be recognised and respected.
MCA members are committed to continuous improvement in their performance, beyond regulatory requirements and to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity. Accordingly, there has been increasing effort by minerals companies to invest in landscape management and conservation activities.
The industry is focussed on avoiding, minimising and mitigating impacts on conservation values. However in some circumstances, offsets may be used to compensate for significant residual loss of these values. Offsets should be strategically developed to enhance the connectivity and resilience of conservation values within the landscape.
The minerals industry recognises that while some previously mined areas are rehabilitated to pre-existing condition or better, other mined areas result in substantial transformation of the landscape. It is the minerals industry's goal to ensure that this land is available for beneficial post-mining land use, including economic activities, conservation or community use.
Further information can be found in the MCA Land Stewardship Policy.
Reports and relevant submissions
(1) IntierraRMG Pty Ltd, Analysis undertaken for the Minerals Council of Australia, current as of December 2012.
(2) State of the Environment 2011 Committee, 2011; Australia state of the environment 2011, Independent report to the Australian Government Minister for Sustainability, Environment, Water, Population and Communities. Canberra: DSEWPaC, 2011 (based on 2005-06 data from Australian Bureau of Agricultural and Resource Economics and Sciences)